Immigration Panel

As Congress and President Obama make immigration reform a priority, it’s especially important for us to examine who is and is not included in the reform – and for us to have an understanding of the history of immigration inequality when looking at the LGBTQ community.The LGBTQ Resource Center and Women’s Center invite you to attend this timely discussion on immigration, and the different obstacles faced by heterosexual and same-sex couples in the immigration process. While our discussion will focus on couples, it will provide a lens in which we can think about broader immigration issues – like applying for asylum.

We are currently confirming our list of panelists, and will release more information shortly.

We are honored to announce the participation of Joey Johannsen and Gabi Helfert on our panel via Google Hangout. You can read more about their experiences below.

Facilitated by:  Dr. Don Hones

Don Hones has been a professor in the College of Education and Human Services since 1997.  His interest in immigration issues are connected to his work with refugee and immigrant students as an English teacher, and now, as a teacher educator for ESL and bilingual education.  He has written on immigration topics in two books, Educating New Americans:  Immigrant Lives and Learning, and American Dreams, Global Visions:   Dialogic Teacher Research with Refugee and Immigrant Families, as well as numerous articles.

Joey Johannsen and Gabi Helfert

Gabi Helfert is a German national and has been living in the Netherlands for five years. Her background is in Psychology (MA) and Management (PhD). After having worked in international corporate project management for over a decade, she is now back in academia, managing web development projects at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. She met Joey Johannsen in 2009 during a trip to the U.S. They fell in love with each other and, after several intercontinental visits, chose to marry in April 2010 in Joey’s home state- Iowa. Facing a one-way distance of 17 hours and $800-1,000 for each airline trip, maintaining a long-distance relationship was quickly out of the question. While Gabi was willing and able to move to the U.S. to live with Joey, the couple was not allowed to apply for family-based immigration, because immigration law in the U.S. is federal law, and under federal law, a marriage has to be between a man and a woman.

After consulting with two lawyers, writing letters to legislators, and discovering that there was no way to pass through or overturn the federal obstacle, Joey decided to leave her favorite city and home in Madison. She resigned from her job at her favorite university of 14 years, UW-Madison. She let go of her condo, and gave away her household belongings to friends and neighbors. She shipped the remaining items on a palette aboard a ship that crossed the Atlantic ocean in six weeks. Her two cats flew as cargo on an airplane from Minneapolis to Amsterdam on a hot August day, one month before her U.S. departure. She said goodbye to family and life-long friends.

Joey grew up near Clinton, Iowa. Her academic training is in Higher Education Administration (MEd). She is now a regular student in Dutch language classes and is immersing into the new culture of the international port city of Rotterdam. She believes she is extremely fortunate to have secured a job, at the age of 53, in an English-speaking international school within a Dutch-speaking university. The Dutch immigration officials were extremely cordial and helpful in processing paperwork for Joey’s residency. Their marriage certificate is honored throughout the European Union. Joey is serving her second year as sustainability coordinator also at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.

Remedios Sullivan

Remedios Sullivan is the Latina Advocate Program Coordinator at Reach Counseling Services in Neenah, WI. Through her work as an advocate, she is aware of the challenges immigrants face when deciding to report sexual assault.

Joe Gemin, Professor, Communication Department, UW Oshkosh


Anne Vang Lo–UW Oshkosh alum, ELL teacher Appleton West

Anne Vang-Lo came to America with her parents in 1978 speaking only two English words, “Yes” and “Pepsi”.  However, she knew that in order to thrive in the United States, she would need to attain an education and therefore, learn English.  Her experiences as an English language learner led her to become very involved with K-12 education as an English Language Learner Interpreter and an advocate for Hmong children.  The inequities in teaching and treatment she witnessed in the K-12 schools motivated her to become a teacher.  She returned to school by attending UW-Oshkosh for her Teacher Education certification and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 2005.  She continued on to receive two Master’s Degrees from UW-Madison with an emphasis on Principal and Director of Curriculum.  She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Education at UW-Madison.  Presently, she was previously an ELL teacher at Foster Charter Elementary and is currently at Appleton West in Appleton, WI where she has taught for over 8 years.

Ms. Vang-Lo contributes her accomplishments to the support of her parents who have never had the opportunity to receive an education, and to her siblings who have all graduated from college and attained higher degrees.   She currently resides in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with her six boys and daughter.

Center for Student Success and Belonging (CSSB)

Campus Center for Equity & Diversity
717 West Irving Avenue
Phone: (920) 424-3080
Fax: (920) 424-3083